"Extra! Extra!"

An Internet WebQuest and Time Travel into Colonial America

Introduction | The Quest | The Process & Resources | Roles | Conclusion |


Where do YOU get your news about what's going on in the world? Before television, radio and the internet brought us up-to-the-minute news and entertainment reports, our world relied on newspapers to help spread the word and keep people informed about what was going on in their community.

People enjoy reading newspapers for the same reasons they did across time. News articles are concise and to the point, as well as current and relevant to the people who subscribe.

You can tell a lot about a community by examining it's newspaper; that's why it is the perfect vehicle in our quest to learn more about life in Colonial America.
What would you read

in an American newspaper 225 years ago?

Introduction | The Quest | The Process & Resources | Roles | Conclusion |

The Quest

Our entire class has been sent back in time to 1775 to help create The Colonial Crier, a 18th century newspaper covering the news and lifestyles of New England, Middle and Southern colonies of the New World. Through thoughtful articles and eye-catching artwork you will create, your readers will learn all about the events ,issues, influential people and culture of a unique time in our country's history. This newspaper will be distributed to all the 5th and 8th grade classes in the district. Plan on being creative and having fun with the information you find on colonial life - our newspaper needs to make daily colonial life come alive!

The newspaper is a collaborative class project. Each person is responsible for researching, writing and submitting a proofread article, advertisement or artwork to The Colonial Crier.

Introduction | The Quest | The Process & Resources | Roles | Conclusion |

The Process and Resources

In order for your newspaper to be realistic-looking and historically accurate, you will need to focus on 2 different areas.

•To make it historically correct, you will need to become an expert on your subject matter. (content)

•To make it realistic-looking, you will need to learn more about newspaper design and basic journalism tools. (process)


Step 1 - Becoming an Expert in your Subject Matter

1. Our class will be divided up into 3 subject matter groups, called Regional Teams. These 3 teams each reflect a different region of the 13 original colonies.
•New England Colonies

•Middle Colonies

•Southern Colonies

 2. Using your textbook, encyclopedias, library books, and the internet, your group will meet each day for two weeks researching and finding answers to the following questions:

•What was life like for your colonists back in 1775
•What news would have made the front page?
•What topics might have sparked debate?
•Who were the important leaders or people in the news?
•What was the latest fashion, literary choice or pastime?
•What were common businesses back then?
•What goods or services might have been provided?


3. To stay organized and find patterns in your research, you will use Inspiration and/or other graphic organizers your teacher will provide.




 You are not limited to these links. What others can you recommend?

*You will explore Webpages from people all over the world who care about colonial history. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Use your in-class dictionary and your teammates for help. Alse be sure to check out the links each of these sites recommend. You'll find them equally useful!

Step 2 - Converting Research into Newspaper Submissions

1. Each editorial section of the newspaper requires a unique form, style and tools of journalism. After a class lesson on Parts of a Newspaper, your Regional Team will meet and assign a newspaper editor role to each person. Each role has it's own writing team.

2 News Editors (reports on late-breaking news of events and interviews)

2 Opinion Editors (voices opinions about controversial topics)

2 Features Editors (shares useful information about home & entertainment)

2 Art & Advertising Editors (designs business ads, political cartoons, photos)

You are now a member of both teams, Regional and Editorial. In the Editorial Team, you will learn and support each other as a writing group.

2. Each Editorial Team will be provided in-class lessons and activities specific to their roles. Carefully review these links to give you a background as to what a journalist does.



Parts of a Newspaper

Reporter's Toolbox

3. Regional Team Activity: Together, begin thinking about which topics or stories in colonial history could be best told by news, opinion or feature articles. Write a one paragraph proposal to your teacher summarizing what you will be writing and what resources you will be using.

Editorial Team Activity: Look at many local newspapers as models. Specifically look at the section of the paper that matches your assigned editorial page of The Colonial Gazette. Examine the layout, content, and design of the page. How is it written? What design or page layout aspects do you like? What will you try to replicate?

Introduction | The Quest | The Process & Resources | Roles | Conclusion |




In the very first paragraph, news reporters tell their readers much of the who? what? where? when? why?and how? of a recent event. Paragraphs are often to the point, brief and state facts. Following the first paragraph, reporters provide further details such as quoting an eyewitnesses or background information.

Focus Question

What important events did or could have occurred that would have made front page news?

Opinion Editor

Opinion Editors share their opinions about controversial topics. The newspaper staff hopes these opinions will inspire readers to in-turn share their opinions by writing back to the newspaper. Opinions are also shared through art, called political cartoons.

Focus Question

What were some issues back in 1775 that sparked debate between colonists? What arguments could each side make?


Features Editor

Features Editors don't report on late-breaking news. Rather, it is their job to find and write about interesting topics that help people live better lives. Articles about health, travel, cooking, fashion, recreation, education, literature and people are often 'featured.'

Focus Question

 What was daily life like in colonial America? What could you use from your research to write an article about health, homemaking, entertainment or education?

  • 18th Century Clothing - Fashion alert! What did people wear back in the 1700's? Find out what the colonists found fashionable at this site!
  • Colonial Living - History Detectives! Learn about the Springers, a real colonial family, by examining their artifacts and answering clues.



& Art Editor

Advertising Editors have an important role in newspaper development. Ads in newspapers help pay the cost of producing each issue. Editors help local businesses design ads that will catch the attention of potential customers. The information and artwork in an ad must be both accurate and attractive.

Search for ads and politcal cartoons in several local newspapers. Look at design layout, font and illustration. Discuss with other Ad Editors what makes a good ad.

Focus Question

What kinds of goods or service-type businesses existed in colonial times ? How would they want their ad designed?


  • Ad Managers - This link describes what ad managers do in real life.


Step 3 - Writing Process

Remember, you went back in history! Therefore, you need to write your articles as if you were reporting them back in 1775. Watch your tense and tone.

Use of Imagination - You may include fictious (not real) people and businesses in your articles for quotes or in reference. Stay true to the locations and the ways colonial people lived back then. You are welcome to discuss ideas or concerns about made up things in your story with your teacher.


As in all projects in this class, we will go through all the steps of the writing process.

1. Brainstorm and Free write
2. Draft
3. Review on your own and with peers
4. Revise
5. Edit & Rewrite
6. Repeat Steps 3&4
7. Final Draft on the computer. Save file.

*Ads and artwork will go through a similiar revision process. Original artwork will be scanned.

Step 4 - Design & Layout

Working with the teachers, you will individually and in editorial teams assist in formatting your work to create a newspage. When it is done, we will photocopy an issue.


Introduction | The Quest | The Process & Resources | Roles | Conclusion |


Congratulations! You did it!

Through The Colonial Crier, you not only learned more about American History, but you also learned about journalism and newspapers. I hope you enjoy reading all your classmates' articles and ads! By fusing fact with fiction, we've created a fun way to learn. Thanks to our class project, now other students learning about colonial America have a new resource.